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Sidereals Wear Too Many Hats! NPC vs PC roles

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  • Sidereals Wear Too Many Hats! NPC vs PC roles

    So one of the issues I've had with Sidereals is that from their perspective they have way too much to do, and everyone else sees them as masters of everything. Solars need them to be the wise old masters as both ally and enemy, then the Dragonbloods need them to be even bigger wise old masters secretly guiding them through unseen dangers that the DBs aren't able to match. Then they have to counter Lunars, the other Celestial Exalted, in sneaky spy games and so need to infiltrate just as well asxthem, maybe better.

    After all this expectation, the roles they play IN Heaven are even weirder when added to that prior context. They are all part of the Bureau of Fate, a kind of special agent for problem out in Creation. But they are also treated (partially due to numbers & their unique skill set with Fate) as Fate politicians, like a U.S. congress where you join upon Exaltation and sit in on committees and deal with all the drama of gods and giant parties and Big P Party Lines.

    This incedible spread of what a Sidereal could and should do was so heavy that the powers they needed as NPCs got tossed ibto that high Essence zone, but had so much crazy to them that they could easily steal the show.

    Yet, nothing in the writing (that i remember at least) helped bridge the gap for a lot of these ideas of goal and purpose for them. The best i got was splitting their requirements into thirds for Fate/Faction/Personal time spent.

    The new DB book sets expected play at Essence 2 instead of 1. Will this method be considered for Sidereals when they occur. Will something be taken off their plates so they can focus on their other roles better? Will they be able to fill their expected roles to the other Exalt Splats (they now hunt Black Market Exigents and have their own Getimian rivals to boot!) Or is their power set about Resplendent Destinies helping to fake that air of wisdom?

    Do you always run Sidereal Npcs at high Essence? Priorly in 2nd or now in 3rd? How to Sidereal PCs affect your game if you run mixed groups?
    Last edited by Cryo-Seraph; 08-10-2018, 02:06 AM.

  • #2
    What the sidereal does and how far their net is depends on the age of the sidereals. The heads of the factions do most of the work when it comes to world spanning feats. Their duties mostly lie in yu-shan and rarely do they actually have time to directly do stuff in creation. Since yu-shan works on a rather slow basis, they have time to work on heavily politics while manipulating creation. Elders usually have E6+ and guide the jobs rather than perform them unless it's an emergency. They have too much knowledge and ability to be lost on a blind side mission. Middling Sidereals are E5-4, they tend to be the people who balance between heaven and creation. They still do field missions that are dangerous but have some more time to be in yu-shan. E3- are sidereals who mostly do field work, and rarely go to yu-shan as they only have a little time to go in between heaven and creation, without Celestial Circle Sorcery (Unless they lower the summoning of the calibration gate to Terrestrial Circle Sorcery). I'd probably put it as the most dangerous time as a sidereal.

    I haven't really run a game before, but I'd probably try to have Sidereal PCs as either sidereals doing extensive field work that coincidentally lines up where the party is or as a ronin. I'm sure there are other ways to run it. I wouldn't run it as a gold or bronze trying to direct the party because the books have always treated faction business as stuff you do after your work. Though, I'd consider an independent the best choice because bringing in factions to a mixed group can put a little bit too much spotlight on the sidereal. However, a party versus faction conflict can be interesting.
    Last edited by Epimetheus; 08-10-2018, 02:26 AM.

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    • #3
      Well just to put this out Sids only wear those hats as a faction. A sid is only going to take over mentoring someone under two situations, obligation, or benefit. A Sid might decide to mentor a Solar because they believe the Solar can be guided along routes that will make the Sid's job easier with the exchange that they'll teach the Solar Sidereal Martial Arts, help the Solar get them information, or the like. If a Sid doesn't have time to go through the trouble of mentoring a Solar then they won't.

      Part of the advantage the Sids have with the Realm, consequently one of the reason's they're allied with it, is that the whole "shadow masters of the world" thing allows the Sids more leeway to work. Hell just because the Realm or DBs believe a Sid might only deal with them and give them a mission when it all goes to crap or the like doesn't mean its accurate. I can totally see Sids handing off tasks to their exalt allies just because those are tasks the Sid can trust to get handled without them. "My superiors have expressed a concern about an object that was taken from its containment area. If you wouldn't mind this is the last place my sources were able to track it. Go there, and see if you can find anything about it. Myself and my superiors would be pleased if you were able to retrieve the object for us."

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      • #4
        It feels like with the amount of what was put on the (game designed) shoulders of the Sidereals is just too many eggs in one basket. They only have 'about' 100 of them, and not even all active. Even if they were all active and started at Essence 2 (required training say), if the split is a better than likely of Ess 2 40%/Ess 3 30%/Ess 4 20%/Ess 5 10%; leaves 30 elder sidereals to run all the politics in Heaven (their part at least) while 70 agents cover all of Creation. And those 70 Essence 2-3 agents are the ones spending all their time being wise sifus and counters to the Lunar machinations and Getimian surprises AND the ones hunting down Black Market Exigents.

        This many tasks and campaign options (on top of what anyone can run for ronin or Sids in mixed games) at this point makes me think we need way more Sidereals or some other specialized group to handle some of these tasks when theu don't.

        And i just realized i left out fate planning. More likely an Elder job, but you have to train the new ones, get them interested so they take up the task when needed.

        Okay, refocusing: what i like about them is that they are busy. I like the PC roles of half heavenly govt. agent/ half politician. That feels full of plots and drama (nearly every cop & crime show plis political thrillers, in ancient lands). Its when the Faction tasks come up that my suspension of disbelief gets rubbed raw. The Ess 5 master is not going to hang out down in Creation for weeks at a time to train some Solars. He might send an Ess 3 Sid to do it, but he will still need to vanish for chunks of tine to report back, run other missions, or also play the rival MA master in order to push his pupil.

        It is an odd juxtaposition to try and do all of that with the single smallest Exalted group. I need to see Sidereals becpme the masters of outsourcing shit. The wise sifu give you a god to train under, the Sid field agent has a full team of back up from his acquaintances, familiars and summoned elementals. But all of that makes the proper Sidereal game seem odd. 4-5 Sidereals on one assignment? The world must be doomed (which is good drama), but more realistically it would run like an awkward visit for coffee break then everyone leaves back to their own departments to each start another mission.

        I know I'm rambling a bit. I just really need to see a solid support structure to let Sidereals do all this. As it just can't be all by themselves.

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        • #5
          I think one of the plans for the Sids in 3e is to help clarify how all this works and let Sids do their James Bond style of secret agenting in Creation while their assistants handle the paperwork back in Heaven, for the most part.


          ....

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          • #6
            Originally posted by BrilliantRain View Post
            I think one of the plans for the Sids in 3e is to help clarify how all this works and let Sids do their James Bond style of secret agenting in Creation while their assistants handle the paperwork back in Heaven, for the most part.
            Summoning a calibration gate should probably be an innate power or something then. It's probably the biggest issue sidereals have, getting from creation to heaven. The gates are even farther apart then before.

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            • #7
              This has always been my issue with sids, there is 100 of them yet they have to do all this crap. I know that being overworked to the point of near-death is part of their whole themes but it still strains disbelief.

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              • #8
                I think the key is to frame it as a diverse range of possible duties, rather than all at once. It might help them more dynamic, despite being the most role oriented.


                I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                Watch me play Dark Souls III (completed)
                https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDtbr08HW8RW4jOHN881YA3yRZBV4lpYw Watch me play Breath of the Wild (updated 12/03)

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                • #9
                  This is why in my game they can all use the calibration gate and even the bronze faction manipulates young solars into doing some of their work for them. Its better to tag and watch a few solars while using them to weaken hard targets than trying to kill them all in their sleep and hoping the dawn doesn't kill you with his super kill you charms that can parry the region exploding under them with a twig.

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                  • #10
                    It´s the same in my game. Sometimes, Sidereals ally with Solars and Lunars, but it is less "I think Solars are super awesome, and they should rule the world and this time it will be great" and more "Ok, we are few and desperate, and there is a Fae problem in this area, which happens to have a Solar and her Lunar mate. If we can nudge them a little bit, we are free to deal with other problems, while they do that thing..."

                    But in my games, Gold and Bronze are less important. The Solars disappeared 1500 years ago, or so. We, in Spain, don´t have our politics revolve around the fall of the Roman Empire, and if we should have stayed under it or not. It´s history. Solars are the same. Sidereal factions are more about cliques, around big, powerful personalities, which ally and betray each other as situation changes, and more about more focused and current problems. The return of the Solars is one of those problems. But also, and probably more important, what do we do about the Empress, for example...

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by BrilliantRain View Post
                      I think one of the plans for the Sids in 3e is to help clarify how all this works and let Sids do their James Bond style of secret agenting in Creation while their assistants handle the paperwork back in Heaven, for the most part.
                      This would make me very sad. I would really prefer they just be maybe more clear about how that paperwork works. "Look. You are a secret agent. You are expected to be in the field and hard to reach a lot of the time. That means that when you do check in with the office, shit has piled up and you are going to need to triage."

                      I think there is a lot of exciting game space to to explore around Sids balancing their in-creation missions and their heavenly responsibilities. Ideally, every story/string of game sessions could center around a period of activity in creation, with a session or two at the beginning and end centered around the heavenly politics of preparing to go into the field (meeting with sources, getting tasked, officially or unofficially, with "side projects", trying to line up support for clever schemes) and filing after action reports and debriefs (if you have gold faction sympathies, but your supervisors are leaning bronze, how do you describe what you did without mentioning the solar you are cultivating as a source. Better yet, if your immediate supervisor is also gold faction, how do you write up your reports to justify your expenses while completely leaving out the side-trip to mentor a young solar, so that HER bosses don't catch on to the fact that she's been tasking you with helping in her quixotic crusade? Or do you just go ahead and tell the truth, then bribe a sympathetic spirit to bury your reports?)

                      Basically, I feel that the balancing act is kind of key to Sidereals' place as Bureaucrat-Warriors. Minimizing the Bureaucrat aspect leaves them as cut-rate night castes. Different splats have different themes, and I get prickly about the idea of refocusing Sids away from the "Laundry Files" aspects that are a huge part of why they are my favorite splat.

                      My .02,
                      Me.


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                      • #12
                        Making Sidereals have to do paperwork and file reports is so, so very good.

                        You can get a lot of Sidereal game inspiration from spy movies...but also from detective shows and police procedurals. Telling a god to get his shit together and stop causing an unreasonable drought over a recent breakup because if he doesn't you're going to have to kill him, and that's a heck of a lot of paperwork... that's just so fun! PCs proposing a stupid and crazy and awesome plan and other PCs saying, "Ok, if that's how you wanna play it...but YOU get to do the paperwork on this one."

                        Also, if Chejop Kejak has not called you a Loose Cannon and threatened you to put you on desk duty for five hundred years if you keep on charging in without backup and putting yourself and your partner/Circle/Creation in danger... you're not having as much fun with Sidereals as you could be.


                        So I'm making God-Kicking Boot, an Exalted webcomic, now. Updates on Sundays. Full-color, mediocre but slowly improving art. It's a thing.

                        The absence of a monument can, in its own way, be something of a monument also.
                        -Roger Zelazny

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                        • #13
                          I think it's hard to assess what could or should be done with regards to Sidereals doing paperwork, because I feel as though the image of how much that actually existed in their prior books or played out in their gameplay has been distorted by internet jokey jokes.


                          I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                          Watch me play Dark Souls III (completed)
                          https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDtbr08HW8RW4jOHN881YA3yRZBV4lpYw Watch me play Breath of the Wild (updated 12/03)

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                          • #14
                            See i want more of that paperwork, that loose cannon complaints, all of that. That is what makes Sidereal PCs seem fun to play. But their uses as NPCs and those roles ( the wise old sifu, the top secret assassin) clashes a little with that.

                            And not by a lot. Its just like . . .
                            PC Sidereal Char-Gen: Ess 1, Attribute 8/6/4, etc.
                            NPC Sidereal Char-Gen: Ess 4, choose 3 full martial arts styles you know, Celestial Circle Sorcery, choose two pinnacle charms to switch you out from danger.

                            It just doesn't feel like you make them the same way to me i guess?

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                            • #15
                              I always found it hard to play the "wise old sifu" as a Sidereal when your character capabilities are about equal to the other player characters (or even a little behind depending on what Exalted types you're playing with). I think the idea was that the Sidereal are fortunate tellers and that knowing the future can make you seem really wise and knowledgeable, even if it is "cheating" a little bit. Unfortunately while the idea of astrology is that you're using the stars to tell the future, mechanically Sidereal Astrology didn't really work that way in either of the two previous Exalted editions.

                              Hopefully Astrology gets modified to better allow Sidereal to engage in seeing the future. While that kind of power can be a bit complicated in the hands of a PC, there are lots of ways to engage in something like that and we saw a few jabs at that idea in the core Solar book.

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